4 Ways Online Stores Trick You Into Spending More Money

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

With the holidays fast approaching, many people are scrambling to get their shopping done. The stores are packed, items are flying off the shelves, and everyone is looking for the best gift at the lowest price. If you find the crazy crowds at traditional stores overwhelming, you may want to turn to online shopping. You can usually find a good deal on almost anything online, and often you will pay less than you would at a store.

There are many other positives when it comes to online shopping, but it’s also true that online companies target consumers just as much as any store you could walk into. Online stores offer unique coupons, special deals like free shipping, obvious convenience, the opportunity to search many different gifts from the comfort of your home, and many other wonderful bonuses that also happen to encourage consumers to spend more. Here are four ways online businesses encourage you to spend more.

1. Free shipping

Free shipping is a wonderful thing. If you shop online, and you don’t have to pay for shipping, then you are usually getting a great deal. Many stores offer free shipping if you purchase any item online, and this encourages you to choose their store over a store that charges for shipping. For online stores that require a minimum purchase amount, many consumers will be tempted to spend more in order to earn the free shipping. If you are purchasing an item that you can use or give as a gift, then it does make sense to go ahead and purchase it from a site that will give you free shipping; however, sometimes you can get the same item from an individual seller and end up paying less even with the shipping fees.

Amazon offers free two-day shipping if you pay for a Prime Membership, and that offer alone has boosted Amazon’s sales (customers spend about $1,500 per year according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, LLC (CIRP) versus non-members, who spend about $625). Again, this membership can be a great thing if you utilize it for needs rather than wants, but that isn’t always the case.

2. Convenience

Sometimes it’s nice to go into an actual store and browse, but online shopping is making that a much less attractive option for people who want to avoid crowds. Especially now, as we get closer to the gift giving holiday season, some people want to stay away from long lines and crowded stores. Shopping online allows consumers to shop when they want without leaving their homes. While dial-up internet used to make busy websites (such as stores offering Black Friday deals) load slowly, that is largely a thing of the past. Most people can enjoy quick shopping via online stores. A Nielson survey found that mobile shoppers in the United States find online shopping to be the most convenient, and prefer to order from their computer rather than their phone.

3. Retargeting

Retargeting is another genius way that online stores get you to spend money. If you look at an item but you then leave the website, the company will still want your business. According to ReTargeter, only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit; however, because of cookies, you can view advertisements for the items that you looked at previously as you continue on to other sites. Of course, other marketing tools are utilized as well, but remarketing can be a powerful way to keep an item (and the store) on your mind, and to encourage you to return to purchase the item.

Many companies will also deliberately target search engines, and attempt to create their websites in a manner that will help them rise to the top of a search request (for example, by using key words), which can then bring in more business.

4. Sales and coupons

Most stores use coupons, and this includes online stores. There are several benefits to shopping online when using a coupon, including the fact that if a store at the mall is out of an item that you want, the online store will probably have it. Some online stores also offer sales that are only available online, or you can access a sale because the store itself is only present online. You also might receive specific coupons or access to sales through your email (and stores may send a coupon to someone who they think will use it, which can improve their sales), and sometimes consumers who join email lists get first or special access to sales.

You also might be able to save money by avoiding sales tax by purchasing items online rather than at a brick-and-mortar store. However, this will depend on your state. Either way, as great as receiving coupons is, it is also a way to get you to spend more money.

Online stores target consumers just like the marketing staff of physical stores does. Some of the tactics are different, but the goal is to make you spend more money. In the end, shopping online certainly has many advantages. Just be sure to close those annoying little photo advertisements that follow you around and encourage you to spend more money.

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